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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is Interviewed About the Border Crisis; Nancy Pelosi Questioned about Possibility of Impeachment Proceedings; House Judiciary Committee May Subpoena Robert Mueller for Testimony; President Trump and Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Trade Barbs on Campaign Trail; Anti-Beijing Government Protests in Hong Kong Turn Violent. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Four years of Donald Trump will be viewed as an aberration in American history.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When a man has to mentioned my name 76 times in his speech, he's in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump has made this into a general election campaign. That's a great favor he's doing to Joe Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is phase one. Trump is not going to rise above this. Joe Biden can.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: It's not off the table. I don't think you should impeach for political reasons, and I don't think you should not impeach for political reasons.

TRUMP: It's a dirty word, "impeach." It's a disgusting word, and it has nothing to do with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't kick this can forever. We do need to make a decision and we need to do it soon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What a beautiful day it is. Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, June 12th, 8:00 in the east. President Trump and the former Vice President Joe Biden mixing it up a little bit on the campaign trail in Iowa. The two hurling insults at each other in dueling stops in the state. A source tells CNN that the president's advisers are frustrated that the president is talking so much about Joe Biden and elevating the Democratic front runner, so it is notable that in the president's final speech overnight he did avoid any mention of the former vice president.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Both President Trump and former VP Biden seem to be ignoring the other contenders in the crowded Democratic race. A new national Quinnipiac poll shows the president trailing Biden at the moment by 13 points. In fact, the poll shows him trailing in head to head matchups with all the top Democratic hopefuls. The president, to the surprise of no one, calls any poll that shows him behind fake polls and says that they are meant to suppress votes.

So let's bring in Bianna Golodyrga, CNN contributor, Manu Raju, CNN senior congressional correspondent, and David Gregory, CNN political analyst. Great to have all of you here. David Gregory, the split screen was interesting yesterday to hear Joe Biden and President Trump ignoring the other candidates and just going after each other. And obviously there were insults and name calling, but I guess we are going to get used to this through 2020.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but there's going to be a numbing effect. We always say this in these cycles that they start earlier, but it's the case, and the fact that they're going mano a mano so early is the case. And of course, this is not a settled matter. For Joe Biden it's quite good for him of course that Trump is elevating him to becoming his opponent at this stage because this is not a settled matter on the Democratic side.

It's important for Biden, too, to show, because I think there's a question for Democrats how are you going to take the fight to Trump. How are you going to avoid the trap that some others have fallen in, think about Jeb Bush and low energy, how are you going to fight back. That's important. Trump of course has no discipline, that we know. If he had more discipline he would talk about the economy, he'd talk about jobs, and he would lay off Biden, which is what his advisers presumably would like him to do.

But the other thing about these head to head polls is we want to look at what's happening in the states and we obviously want to look at when it's truly a one-on-one contest how Trump treats it then and how the polls go.

BERMAN: Given a choice, you don't want to be losing by 13 points on any day.

GREGORY: Right, but you don't want to overinterpret.

BERMAN: Exactly. Agreed 100 percent. Bianna, it is interesting because the president yesterday, one of the things he claimed was that he thinks that Joe Biden would be the weakest of his opponents. On the other hand, we hear from the president's advisers that they don't want him elevating Joe Biden and that he's got serious concerns about him. So which do you believe?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the president will do what the president wants to do, right? He can have advisers talk to him until they're blue in the face and they're blue in the face, and say don't talk about Joe Biden, you're only elevating him. He's going to talk about what's in his gut. That's the kind of person that he is. What's on his mind is clearly Joe Biden. He really gets at him.

And Joe Biden has a way of focusing on Trump without excluding the Republican Party as a whole, something that you're seeing separate him from the other Democratic nominees who are saying, this is much bigger than just one person. The Republican Party has changed and thus we as Democrats have to focus on that as well. Joe Biden is thinking about a general election and saying, listen, there are a lot of Republicans who may have voted for Obama, for me, for our team, and now we're wondering whether or not they are going to vote for Trump if they did already in 2016, maybe they don't do so in 2020, and here's why. So he's focusing on one person. He's using this as an excuse to say, listen, President Trump for now was an anomaly. Anybody who votes for him going forward in 2020 if he's reelected, then we fundamentally will see a shift in this country.

CAMEROTA: Before we move on to the other 2020 candidates, let's get an impeachment status report from Manu Raju, because you were able to capture Nancy Pelosi's attention for a moment and pose it directly to her. Here is that moment.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If the majority of your caucus wants to go forward with an impeachment inquiry, would you go forward?

[08:05:00] REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: It's not even close in our caucus.

RAJU: But eventually?

PELOSI: Why are we speculating on hypotheticals? What we're doing is winning in court.


CAMEROTA: Was she getting a little testy with Manu Raju there, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's not unprecedented for members to get testy when you ask them questions that they may not want to answer, and she views the impeachment issue as a distraction, because she thinks that her current strategy is working. She disagrees with the calls from a faction, it is a growing faction within her caucus, to open up a formal impeachment inquiry because she says the way that she wants to pursue things is to investigate, legislate, and as she says litigate. And she points to court victories that they had, at least on two cases so far, in order to get their subpoenas complied with, those subpoenas dealing with Trump's financial records.

But the real fear, John and Alisyn, is that if they lose in court, Democrats are really worried that if they do not succeed in one of these court fights, it could dramatically set back their efforts to oversee the executive branch, it could have a dramatic effect on their investigations. So that's why the argument you're hearing internally from people like Jerry Nadler making the case to Pelosi, an impeachment inquiry will add heft to their argument in court, and that's why they should open it. That's what Jerry Nadler told me yesterday. He said congressional power is at their zenith, he said, we they have an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi didn't go that far when I asked her that direct question. She

said it's still an open question. She's not sure one way or the other if an impeachment inquiry is the way to go. So it's unclear what will move off her opposition because she's not saying if a majority of her caucus supports an impeachment inquiry she will go for it. It's uncertain what ultimately will get her to move.

BERMAN: Manu, quickly, on that point, though, Jerry Nadler also said that he believes, or he knows that Robert Mueller will testify in public before the end of the summer, he said. Summer is a long time, it hasn't begun yet, three months long, starts on your birthday.

CAMEROTA: What day is that?

BERMAN: That is June 21st.

CAMEROTA: Duly noted.

BERMAN: Let's listen to Jerry Nadler.

GREGORY: Is he talking about a birthday?


JERROLD NADLER, (D-NY) HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We're carrying on conversations with him and he will come in, and if we have to subpoena him we will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that be, say, by the end of the summer if he doesn't come in?

NADLER: Oh, I would think it would be way before that.


BERMAN: Way before that, Manu. Any intel on when that's going to be, because that's the big moment?

RAJU: I think what he's referring to is the August recess, which I believe this August recess is about seven weeks long for Congress. So my impression is that if there's no agreement within -- by next week, maybe slipping to the week after, that there will be a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee to compel his testimony, probably sometime in July. That's reading between the lines. They have not said that so far, but that's where it seems to be going, because, as we've reported, Robert Mueller does not want to testify in public. He wants to do it privately, and that's something the Democrats are not going to allow. So I think we're going to end up seeing that subpoena fight play out.

GREGORY: And that's really the point is that this is a longer process. This is going to be a longer grind about fighting in court about getting access to information, getting access to witnesses. And a lot of people, and a lot of reporters are going to want to get to the bottom line with Nancy Pelosi. But I understand her frustration, but she also has this tension that she has to deal with where she does have a restive caucus, but she's also right. It's not a majority in her caucus that want to go to impeachment and she knows how problematic it is. She's trying to keep them on the pace of let's keep investigating, let's keep it rolling without having to get to the finish line.

GOLODRYGA: And she also wants to say we want to follow the law. It's a slippery slope if you have Democrats already concerned that the judges in the judicial system may not be working in their favor and thus we need to focus on impeachment. That may be going a step too far and playing into the White House's talking point that this is all a witch-hunt.

That having been said, Americans have short attention spans. So if we are talking about into August of 2019, better to hold out for Democrats to 2020, in August of 2020 as we lead closer to the actual election if we're going to hear from Bob Mueller. The report has been out for three months now.

CAMEROTA: Wow. That is amazing it's been out for three months.


BERMAN: Seems like yesterday.

CAMEROTA: Time passing. Let's talk about what's going to happen today, and that is Bernie Sanders is going to be on a campaign trail, and he's going to be talking about democratic socialism and I guess trying to define it for people before President Trump can because President Trump, as you know, is using it as a dirty word. So one of the things in his prepared statement speech that Bernie Sanders is going to say, "Now, let's be clear, while President Trump and his fellow oligarchs attach us for our support of democratic socialism, they don't really oppose all forms of socialism. They may hate democratic socialism because it benefits working people, but they absolutely love corporate socialism that enriches Trump and other billionaires." David, I said it before, but I think they have a branding problem because "socialism" is a loaded word and conjures collective --

GREGORY: Because it failed.

CAMEROTA: OK, Orwell owns that. In any event, he is proud, he is a proud democratic socialist. So he's going to go out on the campaign trail and try to make people understand his brand of it.

[08:10:04] GREGORY: Right. And I think that's important to take the offensive to talk about it in terms of class division, to talk about it in terms of gross income inequality and how that plays out from being devastated by healthcare costs or the cost of higher education and access to higher education.

And he is speaking to a growing and really animated part of the Democratic base. And this is an interesting inner play, I think, because you ask Biden right now about a lot of things, like he said about climate change the other day, you know what my climate change policy is, beat Donald Trump. And that's going to be the rejoinder on a lot of this, because there is a part of the Democratic wing, the progressive wing, that is obviously supportive of Sanders, supportive of these ideas. The broader electorate probably less so right now. It's going to be an uphill slog. And you've got an opponent in Donald Trump who is just saying come on in, and we are just going to brand you as we're going to turn America into Venezuela, and a lot of people, it's going to have traction with a lot of people.

BERMAN: And now you hear him, he was on this morning, reporting, that that's one of the complications with Joe Biden. Joe Biden is harder to paint as an extremist. However, the Trump campaign is looking at the rest of the candidates and then just waiting with bated breath. That's where they will go for many of them.

GOLODRYGA: And Joe Biden is saying, listen, we can talk about specifics down the road. All Democrats, whether they are liberal, whether they are more down the middle, they want one thing, and that is to get Donald Trump out of office, so I'm the best candidate as far as Joe Biden is concerned to make sure that that happens. I think Bernie Sanders' issue is in many respects he's still stuck in 2016. He was the outlier, he was the one with these extremist ideas, he notes that all the time, now, look, everyone is talking about universal healthcare, free education. The problem is he's not bringing in more specifics, like you've seen with a Senator Warren, even last weekend with Dana Bash when she was asking him for specifics, he said I don't have them on me right now. That's where he needs to --

GREGORY: This is also an area where Trump is directionally accurate. Take China, where he would agree. Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, I know Sherrod Brown is not running for president, but the idea that is China ripping America off, is it hurting American workers? That's something that the president has been saying. You can debate what action he's taking, but the fight for the middle class, for working class people is going to be important, Trump knows that. Democrats, Biden certainly knows that. And this is where the arguments that Sanders and others are making are really important for the future of the Democratic Party for sure, whether that is right. For right now we're going to have to watch as this plays out.

GOLODRYGA: That's why Biden is asking blue collar workers do you feel that tax cut.

BERMAN: Bianna, David, and Manu, we want to tell you, we had a Manu Raju sighting. One of our previous guests from the last hour said how excited he was to see you when he was in the halls of Capitol Hill yesterday.

CAMEROTA: He said it was like a celebrity sighting.

RAJU: Oh, boy. I'm not sure I want to know who that person was.

CAMEROTA: You would be so proud. You would be so proud. It was some of the 9/11 firefighters and they were so excited to see you on Capitol Hill yesterday.

RAJU: Yes, they were actually -- they were very kind, and Jon Stewart was as well.

CAMEROTA: All right, great to see you here this morning as well.

We do have breaking news that we need to get to right now, because the protests in Hong Kong are turning violent. Police firing tear gas as you can see, and using high pressure water hoses to try to disburse these massive crowds. Demonstrators there are forcing lawmakers to delay a debate of that controversial expedition bill. And CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Hong Kong with all of the breaking details. What's the situation, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a tense standoff. Come take a look over here. This is arguably like the fifth avenue of Hong Kong, and it's currently cut off as the downtown of this international financial hub has been brought to a standstill by the street protests. So these are riot police that are now putting on their gas masks again, they have got their shields on. They are flanked by protesters at the far end of this highway.

And then I'm going to spin us around, and I'm going to traffic overpass that would normally have cars whizzing over it, and instead there are protesters here and bystanders. And look at this crowd on this side, thousands of demonstrators voicing their opposition to this law that they argue would let anybody that the Chinese central government in Beijing didn't like extradite them from this semi- autonomous city back to Beijing.

The local authorities here, they insist that's not the case, there would be safeguards, and they're plugging loopholes. But what we've seen here and with a more than 1 million man march on Sunday through Hong Kong that was much more peaceful, is a mass show of distrust, not only for the city authorities in this former British colony, but for the central government in mainland China, which has authority just about an hour's drive north of where I'm standing right now. Alisyn and John?

BERMAN: Ivan, thank you so much for being there and watching as it develops. We appreciate your reporting.


The Department of Homeland Security is warning that the humanitarian crisis at the border is beyond a breaking point. So what is Congress going to do about it? We're going to talk with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, next.


BERMAN: Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend the Trump administration's actions on the southern border, saying it's now on Congress to fix the problem.


KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It's been over 18 months since the administration asked for the legislative fixes that would have prevented the current crisis and 40 days since we asked for the emergency funding necessary to manage it.


BERMAN: Joining me now is Democratic whip, Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois. He serves on the Judiciary Committee.

And, Senator, thanks so much for being with us.

I want to stipulate that McAleenan also said, I'm reading from Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post", that had the Gang of Eight immigration plan become law, things would be a lot more secure at the border.

[08:20:01] So, he acknowledges which I'm sure you will point out is that there have been deals at that table that might have made this better in the past. He would stipulate that and for this discussion, let's stipulate that now. Let's talk about what can be done now and in the future given what is going on at the border.

What can and should Congress do immediately?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Well, I will tell you, there's a number of things.

First, we gave this administration over $400 million in February to address the humanitarian concerns at the border. (AUDIO GAP) in the last five or six weeks, you know, in El Paso and the situation down there is gruesome and inhumane. It is not acceptable in the United States for people to be treated this way. I think the Department of Homeland Security knows that.

They're asking for additional funds and I can tell you without fear of contradiction, we're going to provide the funds on the humanitarian side. The Democrats feel that we've got to make certain that these people are treated in a humane fashion while going through our legal process. In addition, we need more immigration court judges, the president's longest shutdown of our government in history shut down the immigration courts at exactly the wrong moment. In addition to that, we've got to come down hard on the smugglers and transporters who are exploiting these people.

BERMAN: Mitch McConnell reportedly is going to propose $4.5 billion in funding for different immigration actions. Is that something that the Democrats in the Senate will get behind?

DURBIN: I think you're going to see the overwhelming majority that we will support. There are some differences they want in policy, which we will (AUDIO GAP) may see differently than Senator McConnell. When it comes down to it, we demand the humane treatment of children.

We had too many children die at our border who shouldn't have died. We have got to make certain that we have -- show responsibility. The zero tolerance program of this administration which they tried and abandoned, separated 2,880 infants, toddlers and children from their parents.

It was a gross mistake. The president even admitted it. We're not going to turn to treatment that mistreats children.

BERMAN: And you would put restrictions on that money that McConnell is asking for? Because that's what his side is saying at this point, the Democrats are asking to put too many riders on this money.

DURBIN: Well, let me tell you, one of the riders we want to put is that the money actually has to be spent for what it's appropriated for. This president is raiding funds right and left to build his all mighty wall at a time when they should be spent to make our border secure in a reasonable fashion.

Yesterday during the course of the hearing, Lindsey Graham said and we all understand a wall isn't going to stop the problem that we face at this border. Let's deal with it realistic terms.

BERMAN: He absolutely did say that. He also had another interesting exchange with Kevin McAleenan and this was on the issue of people have been granted asylum hearings, brought into the United States and whether or not they showed up for their initial hearings. Let's listen to this.


MCALEENAN: We do see too many cases where people are not showing up. We did an expedited pilot with family units this year with ICE and the immigration courts, out of those 7,000 cases, 90 received final orders of removal in absentia, 90 percent.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Ninety percent did not show up?



BERMAN: Do you have any reason to doubt those statistics?

DURBIN: Of course, I do. Of course, I do.

And let me tell you what it boils down to, if you have something as basic as people sitting down and giving these people basic information about the legal process that they face, they have an overwhelming turnout for the hearings, over 90 percent. If they even can sit down with legal counsel who will explain to them, all right, here is what you're going to face, here is the standard of proof which you are going to face, even that basic information helps them to understand the procession and be there.

It's a bewildering process anyway -- let me say that as a lawyer and a person who is has been to the immigration courts. But just a modicum, a modest effort to give them legal information they do turn out in numbers over 90 percent. So I disagree with Mr. McAleenan and his generalization. BERMAN: Well, you don't disagree with the numbers, you just say that

those numbers are happening because these people aren't being given the information that you think they need, correct?

DURBIN: No, I disagree with his numbers. If you listen carefully, he talked about a sampling.


DURBIN: Be careful about the samples and how they are taken. We're learning more and more that these samples don't reflect the reality. Over the last four or five years, we've done a survey and found over 90 percent of those who are supposed to come to a hearing on asylum status actually showed up at the hearing and that isn't what was reflected in his testimony yesterday.

BERMAN: If I can, Senator, I want to ask you a question, a little bit of a campaign question but it's also a foreign policy question and you are also on Senate foreign relations. It has to do with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who gave a speech yesterday on his foreign policy laying out some of his ideas and themes. And he was critical of the administration as you would imagine, but also of Democrats. Listen.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Since the election of the current president the United States hardly has a foreign policy at all. Unless that seemed like a partisan jab, I should acknowledge that for the better part of my lifetime, it's been difficult to identify a consistent foreign policy in the Democratic Party, either.


[08:25:08] BERMAN: Do you think Democrats have lacked a consistent foreign policy?

DURBIN: No, I think Mayor Pete is wrong in that observation and I like him and agree with many of the things he said.

But when it comes to the basic foreign policy of the Obama administration, I understood it. We did our best to keep us out of war. He made it clear the United States was going to stand up and fight for human rights around the world. He treated dictators like the head of North Korea in a fashion that they had to prove good faith efforts to end any threat to the United States.

I would disagree with Mayor Pete on his conclusion.

BERMAN: Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, always a pleasure to have you on with us. Thanks so much.

DURBIN: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, three former EPA chiefs who served under Republican presidents are sounding the alarm about the Trump administration's rollbacks of environmental protections. One of them is here next to tell us what keeps her up at night.



CHRISTINA TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATION UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Climate change is real and the administration is abdicating its responsibilities by denying it. There is no doubt in my mind that under the current administration, the EPA is retreating from its historic mission to protect our environment and the health of the public